Cape Town - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is racing against time to finalise to the funding of outstanding students who applied for this year's bursaries ahead of the re-opening of applications for next year in September.
Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor stopped NSFAS from opening applications for 2019 until it has finalised the outstanding funding of students dating back to 2017 in order to address the IT systems glitches surrounding the funding of the students.
Pandor is in the process of appointing an administrator to run the affairs of the institution after its board chairperson and CFO resigned amid the persistent failure by NSFAS to overcome the problems in funding of students.
Briefing the higher education portfolio committee on Thursday, NSFAS chief executive Steven Zwane said the fund had received about 800 000 applications for 2018 with 498 000 students eligible for funding as of August 15.
Zwane said 254 154 new students received funding while 224 426 others were returning students.
He also said 254 103 bursary contracts were generated for the qualifying students with only 188 790 already signed .
However, there was a total of 65 313 students that have yet to sign their bursary agreements.
"The bulk sit at technical and vocational and training (TVET) colleges," Zwane said.
There are 24 736 unsigned contracts at universities and 40 577 in TVET colleges.
Zwane said among the funded students were 286 105 at universities and 192 475 in TVET colleges.
The CEO said there were 2956 applications awaiting decision because registrations could not be linked with students.
There were also 10 054 applications where NSFAS received proof of registrations from institutions but these could also not be linked with students.
There were also 9 000 Unisa students who did not provide supporting documents.
Zwane said they were working to resolve the challenges.
On the 2017 bursary applications, Zwane said they had recorded 564 011 eligible students.
"Universities confirmed registration for 300 095 students. NSFAS generated contracts for 94% of the students and 98% of the students signed," he said.
"We are dealing with exceptions in respect of unsigned contracts."
Zwane said a total of 263 916 TVET received funding for 2017 and that 97% of contracts have been signed by students.
He said they knew which institutions to work with on the unsigned contracts.
Zwane said they were following with TVET colleges with the highest number of unsigned contracts as part of closing 2017.
These included Unisa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape, University of Fort Hare and Central University Technikon.